James hits Lakers to beat Pacers 124-116 after suspension
Indianapolis LeBron James missed the opportunity to shine at Madison Square Garden this season. So, he escorted his teammates back on Wednesday night in Indiana.
After tied in the first suspension of his career due to Sunday’s brawl in Detroit, James threw a tiebreak and broke a back with three throws in overtime and finished with 39 points to help the Lakers overtake Indiana, 124-116.
“I was excited to be in the squad,” he said. “I didn’t play last night on the second night of a back-to-back game, I knew I could give our guys a boost of energy with not playing last night.”
James sat Tuesday night at a loss in New York after hitting center Pistons Isaiah Stewart in the face and drawing blood on Sunday. James said he hasn’t spoken to Stewart.
“I know he wanted to get that W,” said coach Frank Vogel. “He really wanted to play in that Knicks game, he’s looking forward to that every year. So to come back tonight, to the center in defense and carry attack the way he did, that’s just a performance for the ages.”
James was 13 of 29 from the field and has six assists and five rebounds. With Anthony Davis discharged from the All-Star Center due to a flu-like defense, James was also responsible for calling up defensive assignments in a game the Lakers had never led until the Monk 3 owner’s pointer was left with 4:35 in regulation.
But in the long run, James was his usually dominant self as the Lakers won for the second time in six games.
“James is a great player, he was hot,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We needed to do a few things to limit his touches. We didn’t and paid the price.”
He rescued the Lakers from a game that had all the trademarks of a pre-holiday competition at the end of a long ride — inconsistent play, sometimes poor, sometimes bad basketball.
However, James and Co. found a way to finally clean it up and deliver the knockout blow.
He helped force overtime by scoring seven consecutive points to give the Lakers a 110-104 lead with 76 seconds left.
Russell Westbrook made two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 112-109 and only 3 lopsided from Chris Duarte and 3 wayward James as the bell prevented the Lakers from winning in regulation.
James did not give the Pacers a second chance in overtime.
His first 3 made it 117-114 with 2:51 left. One minute later, he did the second to extend the margin to six and added a midrange jump before Wayne Ellington closed it in. Indiana only managed one basket in the last three minutes.
Lakers: Russell Westbrook scored 20 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Monk got 17 points. Carmelo Anthony and Ellington added 14. … Deandre Jordan scored 11 rebounds and Dwight Howard scored nine. … Rajon Rondo and Kent Bazimore also did not play and were not in the injury report before the match.
Pacers: Brogdon added seven rebounds. … Domantas Sabonis scored 14 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, while Miles Turner scored 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Just Holiday scored 16… Indiana was 13 of 46 in 3s… After committing only two games in the first half, the Pacers started the second half with three in a row. They ended up with 11.
Pacers forward TJ Warren continues to recover from a stress fracture in his left foot and took another significant step on Wednesday. Less than three weeks after giving up his walking boots, Warren made some spot kicks during the pre-game period, coach Rick Carlisle told reporters before the game.
“He doesn’t move much but is involved a little bit, which is very warming for us and I think he is too,” Carlisle said. “We’ll see, I think, on Tuesday where he is and then a schedule.”
Lakers: Host Sacramento on Friday night.
Pacers: Toronto hosts Friday night.
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